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9 potential first-time starters for the Rams in 2021

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Who will be starting for the LA Rams for the first time in 2021? Maybe or probably these guys.

QB - Matthew Stafford

Replacing - Jared Goff

Stafford has played in the NFL for 12 seasons but has only appeared on Monday Night Football 11 times. This year, he’ll be on MNF two times, plus three other primetime games. Stafford played in 20 primetime games in his entire Lions career.

Joining the LA Rams — emphasis on Los Angeles because Stafford will also christen the crown jewel of Stan Kroenke’s move to the west coast when he becomes the first Rams quarterback to start at SoFi Stadium in front of a crowd — brings legitimacy to Stafford’s career that he could not achieve in Detroit.

Most number one picks can’t avoid the spotlight. Stafford is just now finding it.

WR - DeSean Jackson

Replacing - Josh Reynolds

It’s fair to say that the Rams start three wide receivers and that Jackson will be the number three. He brings a lot more explosiveness to the position than Reynolds but how many snaps will be available for next season? At this point, I’ve come to believe Sean McVay and Les Snead when they say that Jackson is still fast, so the age is not a concern for me. But in combination with the recent injury history, it is. How ready will Tutu Atwell be?

C - Austin Corbett

Replacing - Austin Blythe

G - Bobby Evans

Replacing - Austin Corbett

Essentially two new starters on the offensive line, as Corbett’s duties will be a bit different when he slides into the middle. The Rams are obviously confident that Evans improved a lot during his time as a reserve and that Corbett could handle transitioning back to center. Could Joseph Noteboom earn a starting job?

DL - A’Shawn Robinson

Replacing - Michael Brockers

This is kind of weird because Brockers and Robinson are absolutely different kinds of players, but if LA plans to use him as one of their top-three defensive linemen then essentially those are the snaps he’s replacing.

Brockers played in 61% of the snaps last season and Sebastian Joseph-Day played in 40%. The coaches are high on Joseph-Day and some expect him to have a breakout campaign in 2021. Robinson appeared in eight games, with no starts, and was in on 11% of the snaps. The Rams drafted Bobby Brown and Earnest Brown, while also returning Greg Gaines, so maybe someone other than Robinson becomes the third member of the main trio.

SAM - Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Replacing - Samson Ebukam

Drafted in 2018, Okoronkwo has yet to make a start for the Rams. Could this be the year or will he lose out to somebody like Justin Hollins? Hollins has actually played in more than twice as many career defensive snaps and only entered the NFL in 2019.

ILB - Travin Howard

Replacing - Troy Reeder

There are even more possible combinations at inside linebacker than there are at outside linebacker and I’m going with Howard and Kenny Young (Young has already made starts for the Rams). I really have nothing bad to say about third round pick Ernest Jones, and it’s not a bad sign if a player doesn’t start as a rookie.

I wouldn’t place Taylor Rapp here as a starter yet, but could see him moving to this position for depth and then see how it goes.

NCB - David Long, Jr.

Replacing - Troy Hill

Now has to be the time for Long. Another player who the Rams have been stashing away for a couple of years, will the wait pay off?

S - Terrell Burgess

Replacing - John Johnson

Whether Burgess goes to free safety or Jordan Fuller does, the point remains that someone will have to replace Johnson. Burgess was drafted to do that, to some degree.

That would make it five first-time Rams starters on defense, four of whom are making their first NFL starts, period. LA will also be looking for a new longsnapper and will have competition at the returner positions.